Recently, reading Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, I found myself coming to terms with my audiobook angst in a new way. Audiobooks are a phenomenon woven into our family life since my children’s earliest days, and I’ve often mulled their pros and cons. This post from eight years ago is a good sample of the kinds of ruminations I’ve struggled with. Do audiobooks represent a net gain or a net loss in overall literacy? Do they cultivate valuable knowledge or chronic partial attention syndrome? I’ve…Continue Reading “Audiobooks, Physical Books, and David vs. Goliath”

Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself. There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree. (Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch)

The grand totals are in. I read 32 books in 2013, listed here with links to reviews. 17 were fiction, 15 nonfiction; 9 were children’s or YA books; 7 were rereads. 2013 reflects a reading trend: my quantity is going down. Last year it was 36; the year before that, 55. What’s up with that, anyway? Mostly I consider my reduced rate to be a desirable trend. I’m reading more thoughtfully, and rereading more. I have other interests and obligations that aren’t getting short-schrifted because…Continue Reading “Reading Reflections”

My daughters are becoming pretty knowledgeable Middle Earth historians. Last night at supper they were discussing why Elrond’s brother Elros may have chosen to become human rather than an an elf. Then there followed a comparison of Sauron with Satan. And so on. They get all of this from the appendixes at the back of the Lord of the Rings. I’ve always stopped at the end of the story and been ready to move on, but they like the annals of the kings, the dwarf…Continue Reading “Tolkien’s World”

I’ve had some time to read today and find that I can’t really ingest any more of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction without pausing to reflect. This excerpt in particular, quoted from Charles Darwin, captures my attention: Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds… gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays… But now for many years I cannot endure to read a…Continue Reading “Grinding Machine”

A week or two ago found me musing on my role in relation to my 6th grader’s classics reading list. I realized after writing the post that I failed to note the role of that list: a literature component in history, but neither the spine of her history study, nor the sole reading she does. I also realized that I actually have some established opinions on how I approach my role already, based on my years of teaching college English and my personal convictions about…Continue Reading “Cognitive Toolboxes”

Yesterday morning when my husband was in the living room tying his shoes, I heard him chuckle. “Where are we going with all this, Honey?” he asked. He was looking at the book lying open on the couch, the one I’d just started reading: Quantum Physics and Theology. And I was reminded that he is the vicarious reader and reliable companion through most of my passing reading obsessions. I have shared passages with him, and had long discussions with him, about most of the books…Continue Reading “Change of Pace”

I already listed my reading in 2012 here, but it’s in a form that’s essentially useless to me: alphabetical by author. I was curious to go back and list the books in the order they were read, and think about the progression of subjects that that constituted 2012. There’s definitely a reading trail here, from one preoccupation to another. For the first time, there is also a reading hiatus of sorts. It happened over the summer, when my nature and photography interests overwhelmed my bibliolatry….Continue Reading “2012 Reading Reflections”

We have certain lines from stories that tickle us so much they’ve become a part of our family lexicon. We look for opportunities to insert them into the family dialogue, and (surprisingly in some cases) find them. I thought it would be fun to note them from time to time. Here’s the current list, shamelessly slanted toward the Narnia books: “Life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.” (Puddleglum, The Silver Chair) *”It hurts like bilio.” (Eustace, Voyage of the Dawn Treader) “This is extremely…Continue Reading “Book Geeks Unite: Top Quotes”